Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 17th 2014 Contents each family s schedule and interests, researchers said.
These include taking family walks, making dinner
together or having a family movie night.
"Every family is different, and every family knows
best what will work for them," said McCarthy.
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, March 17, 2014
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Preschoolers who sing, tell stories and eat dinner
with their families tend to be emotionally healthier
and better adjusted socially than kids who don t
have such routines, a recent study has found.
Researchers examined the number of daily routines
that more than 8,500 children practised with their
families. They found each ritual was linked to a 47
per cent increase in the odds that children would
have high so-called social-emotional health, which
indicates good emotional and social skills.
Social-emotional health "allows children to express
their feelings, understand others emotions and devel-
op and sustain healthy relationships with peers and
adults," said Dr Elisa Muniz, the study s lead author
and a paediatrician at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in
Such development plays a key role in enabling kids
to thrive in the classroom, researchers said.
"There is strong scientific evidence that children
who possess these abilities to a greater degree are
more likely to succeed in school," Muniz said.
The researchers used data from a long-term study
conducted by the National Center for Education Sta-
tistics to gather information about kids and their
families as it relates to childhood development and
readiness for school.
Children in the study were taken from a national
sample of those born in 2001, and data about them
were collected from questionnaires, childhood assess-
ments and interviews of the child s main caregiver.
The study followed children from birth until they
began kindergarten. The recent report used infor-
mation about the children that had been collected
when they were preschool-aged.
Researchers examined how often children partic-
ipated in five family routines: having dinner as a
family at least five times a week; reading, storytelling
or singing at least three times a week; and playing
at least a few times a week.
Children s mothers also rated their child s social-
emotional health using a 24-item survey. The children
were an average of just over four years old.
Muniz and colleagues found that about 17 per cent
of the children had high levels of social-emotional
health, and that children who took part in more
family routines were more likely to be socially and
emotionally advanced. The exception was reading,
which was not clearly linked to social-emotional
For example, 11 per cent of the children who had
no family routines had high social-emotional health,
compared to 25 per cent of those whose families
engaged in all five routines. Three-quarters of the
children participated in at least three family rou-
The study was published in the Journal of Devel-
opmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
Researchers said the results weren t surprising
given how important ongoing nurturing interactions
with caregivers are to young children s health and
"When you are happy and secure, you are much
more able to learn and interact in healthy ways," said
Dr Claire McCarthy, a paediatrician at Boston Chil-
dren s Hospital who was not involved in the study.
"When (children) are unhappy, insecure or unsure
of their environment, energy goes into dealing with
that, and not into learning," she told Reuters Health.
Family routines also help build skills that are crucial
for success in academic and social settings, she noted.
"The routines in the study can help with what we
call executive function : skills like problem-solving,
negotiation, planning and delayed gratification. Having
good executive function skills is absolutely important
for school success," said McCarthy.
Parents can foster kids social-emotional health
in many ways, including practicing the routines in
the study. Yet the goal---spending time together to
foster communication and loving relationships---can
also be achieved through other activities that suit
took part in
more likely to
be socially and
according to a
Kids with family routines more
emotionally, socially advanced
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